How our graduate, Matt, helped to implement agile working at npower.
Matthew Hulks has been part of the RWE npower Bespoke Graduate Scheme since 2013 and is currently part of the Agile Working Team.
While completing my Masters degree I entered, and became a finalist in, the RWE npower Future Leaders Challenge – a competition which challenges university students to think creatively and implement a sustainability project in their local community. Following the Future Leaders Challenge I applied for the npower graduate programme and was fortunate to be offered a place. Graduates that were already on the scheme said many positive things about how personable the staff were and said that it was one of the best graduate programmes around. What appealed to me also was the fact that you’re one of about 30 grads, instead of just a face amongst hundreds, so you really are known by name throughout the business!
I was really happy to be accepted onto the scheme and I’m now a year in. On the scheme you spend six months in each work placement – I started off in the Real Estate Sustainability & Energy Management Team where I was looking at aspects like water and energy consumption across the npower offices. In the process of working there, I was exposed to the concept of agile working, as it tied closely into sustainability. I built up a personal network in the agile working team and, when my six months was up, I took the opportunity to move across to them and take the skills I’d already learnt with me.
npower is currently planning to roll out agile working to all its UK offices. It will give team members the freedom to choose where and how they work – be it from home a few days a week, from a client’s office, a café or moving around to different spaces within the office. It’s great for npower from a sustainability aspect (fewer workers coming into the office means less power and water use and fewer cars on the road) and from an employee perspective, it means they can choose where they do their work. It’s all about being trusted to manage your own time and having the power to choose – work is measured in quality of output, not time spent at your desk!
Since I’ve been in the team, I’ve been involved in some of the most challenging and satisfying work I’ve ever done. The challenge for me has been the fact that I have to go into an office and explain to people why npower is moving to agile working. Sometimes, it has been clear that there’s a slight generational difference– I’ve found that graduates grasp the concept very quickly as they’re used to this style of working at university, being given a task to do and then sent away to achieve in their own way. People who are used to more traditional working styles within an office sometimes take longer to come around, but we’ve had great success overall.
We recently had a feedback session and the employees were full of praise for how agile working has changed the way they work. One manager said that the team’s Monday morning meeting was now held at a local café that was easy to get to for all team members, who afterwards could spread out to their respective locations. He said “I think it’s been 100% a success”, which was fantastic to hear! As a graduate, I’ve never had so much influence over something nor had so much to answer for. Senior team members ask me detailed questions about how it will work and I’ve had to be confident in my answers and convince them of the value of this new concept for working.
I’m really proud of being a part of the agile working team. I can’t think of many other grad schemes where I’d be involved in the whole process, including delivering project work to the executive committee, which is made up of senior npower directors, and gaining buy-in from senior people throughout the business. I’d encourage people who are thinking of applying for the npower graduate scheme to go for it as it’s totally different to anything else out there and you’ll gain some genuinely invaluable experience.
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